Exploring your self-compassionate voice through music, images, or writing
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror
And each will smile at the other’s welcome…
– Derek Walcott, from Love after Love
To bring awareness to your self-compassionate voice and to use that awareness as an opportunity to help you practice being kinder to yourself. As this is our first Creative Invitation, go as easily as you can, especially if the self-critic emerges as you create. Our emphasis throughout the course is on process, not outcome. If you feel the urge to quit, how can you kindly support yourself through it?
- Your journal and a pen you love to write with
- Optional: paints or markers and your sketchbook
Before you begin this exercise, please be sure you’ve completed the required “How Would I Treat a Friend?” exercise. Then, sit down, settle comfortably and find the breath. Acknowledge all that it took to arrive right here, in this moment. Breathe into your feet – really feeling the ground supporting you. Be present to the physical sensations of air on your skin. Stay with this until you feel present and centered.
- After completing “How Would I Treat a Friend,” you will have two pieces of writing in front of you: the first describes how you would support a friend who is having difficulty, and the second describes how you speak to yourself in times of difficulty.
- Turning your attention to your typical response to yourself, underline any self-critical or unkind words/phrases that you notice.
- Pause and treat yourself to a Self-Compassion Break. If you’re comfortable guiding yourself through it, feel free to do that as usual. Otherwise, you may listen to the free, guided Self-Compassion Break audio by Kristin Neff.
- If any softening occurred during your Self-Compassion Break, breathe into that sensation and allow that to stay with you, and perhaps even to fill you, if that is possible.
- Finally, return to the self-critical or unkind phrases you underlined in Step 2. What kind response can you offer to each one? What words do you need to hear during moments of suffering?
- Option 1: In your journal, write out a revised response to your suffering self, specifically speaking to each self-critical or unkind phrase you underlined in Step 2.
- Option 2: If you are a person to whom music speaks deeply, choose a song or make an entire playlist that is motivational and captures your loving self talking to you. Share it with the group if you wish, and let us know what about the song touches you. We have created a sample self-compassion playlist to inspire you (right sidebar).
- Option 3: If you’d like to explore this visually, return to the underlined phrases from Step 2 and choose a phrase or word which emerges for you most strongly as being in need of tender attention. Can you paint or draw a self-compassionate response to it? Your visual expression can be literal (decorative words, a particular soothing scene) or it can be representational (colors, lines, and textures which evoke in you a felt sense of self-compassion).
- During the process of crafting a kind response to your suffering self, what came up for you? Did the inner critic emerge? Was there catharsis or numbness? Did it feel authentic or disingenuous? How did you receive whatever came up for you?
- Now that you’ve considered what it might be like to speak with yourself in a more self-compassionate way, what emotions emerge? Did backdraft emerged? Is there anywhere else in your life that you’ve felt this? Can you practice holding it all with tenderness?